Jailed Vietnamese democracy activist Nguyen Trung Truc, a member of the online Brotherhood for Democracy advocacy group, is suffering from failing eyesight after being held for long periods in a darkened cell, a fellow activist says.
Speaking with RFA’s Vietnamese Service on condition of anonymity, the activist—also a Brotherhood member—said that Truc’s son reported his father’s condition following a prison visit on Tuesday, adding that Truc has grown physically weaker in jail since his arrest last year.
RFA was unable to contact Truc’s family for confirmation, and Truc’s lawyer declined to comment on his client’s state of health, citing the political sensitivity of the case.
Truc, an online democracy advocate and former political prisoner, was taken from his home in handcuffs on Aug. 4, 2017 and charged under Article 79 of Vietnam’s penal code with working to overthrow the government.
Truc’s arrest followed the round-up of other members of the group, four of whom are now serving long prison terms after appeals of their sentences were turned down in June.
Nguyen Van Dai, who founded the Brotherhood in 2013 to defend human rights and democratic ideals in Vietnam and was later handed a 15-year prison term, was freed with another group member and sent into exile in Germany in June.
Speaking to RFA , Dai called Truc “the last member among nine leaders of the organization recently arrested by the government.”
Government accusations that the group has engaged in subversive activities are unfounded, Dai added.
Truc is now scheduled to stand trial on August 17, Dai said.
Abuse and ill-treatment of political prisoners is common in Vietnam, with jailed activists often subjected to harsh and degrading conditions behind bars, sources say.
New York-based Human Rights Watch has said that police brutality is systemic in Vietnam, whose Ministry of Public Security has admitted that 226 suspects and inmates died in police stations and detention facilities throughout the country between October 2010 and September 2014.
Communist Vietnam, where all media are state-controlled, does not tolerate dissent, and rights groups identify Article 79 as among a set of vague provisions that authorities have used to detain dozens of writers and bloggers.
Reported by RFA’s Vietnamese Service. Translated by Viet Ha. Written in English by Richard Finney.